Nothing excites keen fashion-hunters more than a label they have never come across, especially if it is from the less-frequented shores of the style universe and has a distinct and appealing viewpoint. This is the reasoning behind the Culture and Craftsmanship pop-up that started yesterday at The Shop at Bluebird, a store with a good track record of supporting new designers and being unafraid to give them their first commercial outing in this country.
This particular selection of eight designers, all but one exclusive to Bluebird in the UK, celebrates sophisticated fashion from the Arab states. The designers work in various parts of the world but are from countries including Lebanon, the UAE, Libya and Saudi Arabia, and are united by a love of their home countries’ tradition of craftsmanship, which is subtly expressed in clothes and accessories of striking modernity.
“We love to highlight brands that are interesting and have a point of difference,” says Bluebird head Claire Miles. “Our customer looks to us for something fresh – and the Arab states have diverse and dynamic emerging fashion talents.”
Clothes from Swiss-raised Lebanese Sandra Mansour (example in first picture, £515) have a modern feminine sensibility, with craftwork learned from her mentor Elie Saab, while The Kayys – three sisters from Doha – have a clean-lined aesthetic in luxurious natural fabrics (example in second picture, £270). Reem Al Kanhal from Saudi Arabia creates gently voluminous, graphic shapes with finely crafted detail (from £130) while Kamushki’s simple yet decorative fine jewellery (example in third picture,£3,082) is designed by a pair of Libyan sisters. Already known for her cool bags is Lebanese-born Nathalie Trad, whose quirky, modern-art-deco Lucite clutches (example in fourth picture,£1,060) are red carpet-ready.
To celebrate, Bluebird has created one of its typically flamboyant installations at the front of the store – you will find it hard not to be as surprised and delighted as Bluebird’s buyers were to discover these brands.